AN application for discharge by a senior prison officer and a Bulawayo lawyer was on Thursday dismissed by a Gwanda senior magistrate, sitting at the Bulawayo Magistrates’ Courts who indicated that he could only make a ruling if the two were placed on their defence.
Absolom Hlupho, a principal prison officer at Khami represented by Prayer Muzuzu, and lawyer Tungamirai Nyengera, represented by Godfrey Nyoni, pleaded not guilty to the fraud charge when they appeared before Reuben Mukavhi from Gwanda.
The two are alleged to have faked the warrant of liberation for Lungisani Sibanda, who was serving a seven-year jail term for carjacking.
The fake warrant of liberation had an authentic date stamp of Matabeleland Provincial Magistrate.
Prosecutor Blessing Gundani had presented the purported fake warrant of liberation and the printout of calls allegedly made by the two when they communicated with the convict’s sister, who paid them to facilitate his release.
Through their lawyers, the two filed application for discharge after the State closed its case on Thursday, stating that the State had failed to prove a prima facie case against them.
“Documents tendered in court had no signature from any official from the service provider where the call history was allegedly taken from,” they argued.
“There was not even a stamp, but just an Econet logo, which anyone can forge efficiently through copying and pasting.
“The State, despite this being highlighted in cross examination, did not see it fit to call an official from Econet.”
They said the information was clearly printed from some portal, as evidenced by the words at the bottom of the alleged call history.
“It was not confirmed that such a portal belonged to Econet,” they submitted.
“The alleged call history is of very little assistance to the State as it does not tell what was discussed.”
They concluded that the essential part of the charge had not been proven — that is the record granting Lungisani Sibanda’s bail may exist in the provincial Magistrates’ Court had not been disproved.
They indicated that the warrant of liberation may have been issued regularly at the clerk of the criminal court’s office and that had not been disapproved.
They submitted that anyone of the officers from the clerk of criminal court’s offices may have issued the warrant of liberation against an existing record and that had not been disproved in court.
The two submitted that the essential part of the charge had not been proven – that the warrant of liberation was fake or forged and, therefore, there was misrepresentation.